Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly posted a chat with John Lasseter about the way things are divided between the three different animation companies that all work now under the broader umbrella of "Disney." Walt Disney Feature Animation has always been the crown jewel for the studio, and many of the biggest landmarks in the company's history have been thanks to the efforts of WDFA. Pixar, which began as an independent studio, now operates with what seems to be some autonomy, but considering Lasseter is part of everything now, I'm not sure I see why they bother with the distinction. I'll be honest... what I think of as Pixar is really just a loose collection of very talented people who, when collaborating, represented one of the best story departments in the industry.
Then there's Disney Toons, and I would imagine the people working there must feel a bit like the red-headed stepchild, especially when the main message of the press materials so far has been "We started work on this as a direct-to-video quickie, but it looked nicer than we expected, so we decided to squeeze out a few bucks in the theater first."
Is that fair? Is that what you should carry in with you if you go to see "Planes"?
As we steel ourselves for the season ahead with early lists of contenders and a harsh spotlight on unassuming films hoping to find an audience, let alone awards traction, it's worth remembering that the list of coulda-been players in a given Oscar season is long and considerable. And if I'm not making the point clear enough early on in that sentence, let me do so now: this is every bit the fault of analysts like me, as much as it is the films themselves, if not more.
Covering the awards season, we forecast, we look ahead, we see how things look on paper and we set sometimes unfortunate bars. Not every film is looking for that kind of exposure, and often enough, the inflated expectations of industry watchers get in the head of many a would-be player only to amplify the eventual disappointment of a dead end. That having been said, there are obviously many films that set their sights on the awards race with the right formula, or so they thought, only to come up empty-handed at the end of the day. We see them every year.
Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman -- who some might call a noted Harvey Weinstein shill -- bloviated about "Lee Daniels' The Butler" under the cover of "Oscar observation" a few weeks ago but apparently no one else could. The embargo is up today so let's get into it. The question on this one is, will it be an awards player or will it just fade out before the season even gets here? A few thoughts...
I have no clue what has happened on "Big Brother" in the past week, thanks to Time Warner Cable and CBS.
From reading Liane's recaps, I know that Amanda, Spencer and Candice are on the block and from various bits of online scuttlebutt, I know that Amanda has basically gone crazy, while Spencer has continued his long run of variably horrifying comments that CBS is choosing not to air.
And from last week, I remember that it's a double-elimination Thursday (August 8), with the regular vote, as well as the always-unsettling Week of "Big Brother" in an Hour wackiness.
Follow along! And forgive me if I lack the con text for certain things. Blame CBS and Time Warner.
"Did they poison my food? Is it cause I'm a girl? / If I puked up some sonnets would you call me "a miracle?"
Neko Case gets fairly specific -- and, thusly, cryptic -- on her new song "Night Still Comes." This swaying tune brings in soul and gospel elements into its killer chorus, and the large chorus that sings her chorus. "You never held it at the right angle," they sing, never naming what "it" is as she relates how a forest consumes her and the ocean dashes her biggest "plans."
"Night Still Comes" is yet another example on Case's next album "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You" of slipping her character's gender into the "Fight." On "Man," she took up a male as its subject, but not just any male: a very male-y male, an archetype of manly adages in song. Here, pairing the term "puke" up with "is it 'cause I'm a girl" makes it really confrontational, even if we still have no idea what the hell is going on.
I'll just mark this as another good one from Case, whose "Worse Things Get" is out on Sept. 3 via Anti-. The album features guest spots from M. Ward, members of The New Pornographers, My Morning Jacket, Calexico and more. Full tracklist and tour dates are below.
Here is the tracklist for "The Worse Things Get":
1. Wild Creatures
2. Night Still Comes
4. I’m From Nowhere
5. Bracing for Sunday
6. Nearly Midnight, Honolulu
7. Calling Cards
8. City Swans
10. Local Girl
11. Where Did I Leave That Fire
Here are Neko Case's tour dates:
8/09 – Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Folk Festival
8/11 – Regina, SK @ Regina Folk Festival
8/24-25 – Monterey, CA @ First City Festival
9/06 – Chicago, IL @ A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party
9/08 – Portland, OR @ Musicfest NW
9/11 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
9/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ Orpheum Theater
9/13 – Santa Fe, NM @ Lensic Performing Center
9/14 – Denver, CO @ The Ellie Caulkins
9/16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
9/17 – Boise, ID @ The Knitting Factory
9/18 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount
9/19 – Eugene, OR @ The Cuthbert Amphitheater
9/20 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theater
9/25 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
9/26 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
10/04-06 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
10/05-06 – Los Angeles, CA @ Way Over Yonder Fest
10/11-13 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
10/15 – Lawrence, KS @ Liberty Hall
10/16 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/17 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
10/19 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
10/20 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
10/23 – Nashville, TN @ The Cannery
10/24 – Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
10/26 – Durham, NC @ The Durham Performing Arts Center
10/27 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Paramount
11/01 – Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
"The Abramovic Method Practiced by Lady Gaga" is a video of the pop star trying to sing a long tone for a very long time, and posing naked, laying on the floor, standing in a creek, and other various eccentric postures and settings.
No, it's not a music video.It's about three minutes of art that you might not "get," the result of a three-day retreat Gaga spent with the famed performance artist Marina Abramovic, spending time on "series of exercises designed to heighten participants' awareness of their physical and mental experience in the present moment." The Institute released the video in an effort to raise awareness of its Kickstarter -- which, in itself, is something to behold.
The "Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) will be the first space dedicated to practicing the Abramovic Method, which prepares participants to both perform and observe long durational work," reads the description from the Vimeo page. Maybe Mother Monster is just trying to up her performance ante when it comes to her next album "ARTPOP?"
This video is not safe for work, in case this needs to be repeated.
"ARTPOP" is out Nov. 22, to be preceded by single "Applause," due Aug. 19.
The wave of quality cable dramas of the last decade has turned into a flood. Everyone's looking for their own "Sopranos," their own "Shield," their own "Mad Men." When you start factoring in streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu (which are both making their own programming and importing terrific shows from overseas), it's inarguable that there are more good dramas than at any point in the history of the medium.
But what's also become obvious of late is just how hard it is to make these shows work. Too many shows have been made under the mistaken belief that all you need to achieve greatness is to follow a familiar recipe. Take imposing character actors as leading men, add anti-heroes in a world full of moral ambiguity, a cinematic look, some colorful dialogue, and preferably some graphic violence, and your would-be "The Wire" will be baked in 35-40 minutes, right?
These shows have the appearance and texture of the greats of past and present, but there's something empty and unsatisfying about them. They tend to lack the ingredients you can't just buy at the store: a distinctive voice and a spark of mad genius. Sometimes, they succeed anyway (Showtime has already renewed "Ray Donovan" for a second season), and sometimes they fail (Starz just canceled "Magic City"), but their separation from the genuine article becomes unmistakable in time. They're the I Can't Believe It's Not Better dramas, and AMC may have another on its hands with "Low Winter Sun."